we are the dead

How to build a low budget photography set

we are the dead: speed edit videos

we are the dead: backstage videos

we are the dead: the making of a photography series

[Scroll to the end to see the pictures (the post is going to be updated as I am releasing each image)]

The festival

Abour a year ago, I decided to participate in the 2019 Contrast Photography Festival of Thessaloniki, titled “2084”, which aims to investigate the various interpretations of the prophetic book “1984” by George Orwell.

When I saw the open call for submissions to the festival, I was immediately drawn to it because of its theme. “1984” is one of my all time favorite books and undoubtedly a literary masterpiece.

Thought process

Right away I started researching ideas for a brand new photo series based on the festival’s theme. First, I re-read the book, this time taking notes of whatever I thought could serve as an idea for an image. It was not hard to fill my notebook with quotes from the book as inspiration.

The festival called for works that would be inspired from the book, concerning both our present and future issues. A lot of ideas were crossing my mind, others technology oriented, others inspired by real events in our society. Ηowever, I wanted to create a series of images that would be cohesive and fit my style of photography.

I thought about other books or films that presented a universe similar to that of “1984”. What did they have in common? That’s when I first had the idea to create images that would speak about the issues described in the book, but not literally. I thought about what the main theme of the book was and how that could be represented symbolically. After the main idea had been formed, I started thinking about the setup of each image and ended up with nine different concepts.


Building my own set

At first I thought about shooting each concept in a different location. Somewhere along the way, I came across Eugenio Recuenco‘s amazing “365º” project. He used the same setting for all 365 images in his project: a narrow room with a small window on the left wall. Then, the small lamp above my head lit up and I thought “that is exactly what I should do!”. I found the idea of using the same confined space as a setting for all the pictures very fitting. Then came the million dollar question: where do I find such a space? I wanted to find a rather narrow room with three walls and no windows or doors and I needed natural light to come in that space from somewhere. I looked for places I already knew, but none seemed to fit the criteria. I went looking at abandoned buildings, old appartments, music rehearsal studios, nothing. So, it started to dawn on me that if wanted to get a room exactly how I wanted it, I would have to build it.

So, how does one build a room? Well, the only place I could do it was in my garage, so that gave me an idea of how big the room could be. I remembered that Brooke Shaden had done something similar in her studio, for her project “Fourth Wall”, so I looked that up to get ideas. It seemed like a simple construction, but somewhat over my budget. Then I stumbled upon Sue Bryce‘s DIY V-flats and there it was, the solution to making a simple and cheap backdrop that could easily be transformed into a room. Long story short, I bought pieces of polystern (a material that is used as wall insulation), painted it and screwed it together. And just like that I had my own room to shoot in. I used dirt instead of a floor, to symbolize the connection to the world outside the room. I must confess, I really enjoyed making my own set!

we are the dead

(the pictures are going to be added, as I am releasing them)

There are nine pictures in the series, which showcase the story of how people fight against oppression, to win their freedom back. Each image represents a different stage in this fight, some times successful, sometimes not. In the end freedom is won, but at what cost?

Photography/Set design/Video: Nicki Panou

Photographer’s assistant: Kiriaki Papadopoulou

Costumes: Nicki Panou, Kiriaki Papadopoulou

Models: Stathis Papoulidis, Katerina Ganda, Alexandros Stamatis, Stavros Siagalidis, Christina Papadopoulou